Title: Mute Witness (2nd Edition)
Author: Rick R. Reed
Publisher: DSP Publications
Pages/Word Count: 290 Pages
At a Glance: Mute Witness is a well written story, with realism and a little taste of the dark side weaved in.
Reviewed By: Maryann
Blurb: The abuse of a little boy turns a community against a loving gay couple, and nobody comes out of it unscathed.
Sean and Austin have the perfect life: new love, a riverfront home, security. Their love for one another is only multiplied when Sean’s eight-year-old son, Jason, visits on the weekends.
And then their perfect world shatters.
Jason goes missing.
When the boy turns up days later, he’s been so horribly abused he’s lost the power to speak. Immediately small town minds turn to the boy’s gay father and his lover as the likely culprits. What was a warm, welcoming community becomes a lynching party out for blood.
As Sean and Austin struggle to stay together amidst innuendo, the very real threat of Sean losing the son he loves emerges. Yet the true villain is much closer to home, intent on ensuring the boy’s muteness is permanent.
Review: Mute Witness will not be an easy read for some, as it deals with the rape and beating of a young child. There was a point where I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read any further, but each chapter was set up with just the right amount of character portrayal and action. I just needed to take a breath and deal with the variety of emotions Mr. Reed delivers throughout this story.
It wasn’t difficult to figure out who the villain was, but this is not the usual mystery. For me, this story is about people with secrets, the myths about homosexuality, and the truths about pedophilia and different forms of abuse. True to form, Mr. Reed’s writing is packed with reality, suspense, horror and the creepy supernatural. There were moments where I thought I knew what was going to happen, but then Mr. Reed surprised me. This novel also left me thinking, “How would you feel about or handle some of the issues this story addresses?”
At the center of the story is an eight-year-old boy, Jason Dawes. He’s been violently beaten, raped, and no longer speaks. Jason is found by a hermit, Junior Parsons, who Detective Hugh Allen wants to nail for this crime, no matter what.
Detective Allen has a secret, and Sean Dawes knows his secret. Sean is Jason’s father, and as the horror of each event occurs, Sean becomes desperate. He’s had to fight for custody of his son since Jason was born, but he never once felt that Jason should be without Shelley, his mother. I can’t blame Sean for what he did, and I think it was even helpful to Jason. It was sad to see Sean and his partner Austin have conflicts and doubts because of all the turmoil.
Shelley has had some ups and downs in her life, and she tends to be a weak individual who lets her overbearing, intolerant mother intimidate her. Shelley doesn’t face her issues head on, and that in itself causes guilt.
Then there’s, Harriet Schimidbauer, ninety-two, a love for bird watching and very observant, who finds the courage to come forward.
Mute Witness is a well written story, with realism and a little taste of the dark side weaved in. Mr. Reed’s writing, as usual, is easy to follow, and it will definitely keep you caught up in a web of emotions. Each character is complex and they make decisions on what they believe, but some of those decisions you may not agree with. I was amazed at the characters the author creates so precisely, especially the ones that are not very nice, though the one subject I would have liked covered a little more was what help was given to Jason after such a traumatic ordeal.
You can buy Mute Witness here: